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Neophobia (from Greek νέος - neos, "new, young" and φόβος - phobos, "fear") is the fear of new things or experiences. It is also called cainotophobia or cainophobia (Greek καινός - kainos, "new, fresh").
In psychology, neophobia is defined as the persistent and abnormal fear of anything new. In its milder form, it can manifest as the unwillingness to try new things or break from routine. Mild manifestations are often present in young children (who want the small portion of the world that they "know" to remain constant) and elderly people (who often cope using long established habits and don't want to learn "new tricks").
Neophobia is also a common finding in aging animals, although apathy could also explain, or contribute to explain, the lack of exploratory drive systematically observed in aging. Researchers argued that the lack of exploratory drive was likely due, neurophysiologically, to the dysfunction of neural pathways connected to the prefrontal cortex observed during aging.
Robert Anton Wilson theorized, in his book Prometheus Rising, that neophobia is instinctual in people after they become parents and begin to raise children. Wilson's views on neophobia are mostly negative, believing that it is the reason human culture and ideas do not advance as quickly as our technology. His model includes an idea from Thomas Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, which is that new ideas, however well-proven and evident, are implemented only when the generations who consider them 'new' die and are replaced by generations who consider the ideas accepted and old.
- List of phobias
- Culture shock
- Cognitive ethology
- Paleophobia (fear of old things)
- νέος, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus
- φόβος, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus
- καινός, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus
- Cainophobia, Dictionary.com
- Lalonde R, Badescu R (1995). "Exploratory drive, frontal lobe function and adipsia in aging". Gerontology 41 (3): 134–44. doi:10.1159/000213674. PMID 7601365.
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